old homestead bulbs

Kathleen Sayce ksayce@willapabay.org
Sat, 06 Feb 2010 15:25:59 PST
A local park ranger contacted me today about  a kind of white  
bluebell, quote, she saw blooming in a native forest along Highway  
401 on the north side of the Columbia River, near the extreme SW  
corner of Washington in the Pacific NW. As today is a day off work  
for me, I found my boots and camera, and went out to see what it is.  
This area had scattered homesteads 150-100 years ago, but most  
buildings are long gone. There are no homes nearby now, and the land  
has reverted to timberland.

In this particular spot, there are daffodils, not yet flowering, what  
are probably Hyacinthoides (non-scripta or hispanica, or hybrid), and  
Galanthus nivalis flore pleno. The other bulbs are showing buds or  
only leaves at this time at this site. There are also large old ivy  
plants in the trees, and cherry laurel--both are common signs of  
former homesteads in this area, as well as bulbs.

The Galanthus plants are spread over more than 10 x 100 yards, down a  
slope to and across a small stream, and appear to be moved by elk as  
they trample through the area. I found numerous bulbs loose on the  
surface in elk tracks. There are hundreds of clumps and thousands of  
individual plants. They are flourishing in an area that has been  
reclaimed by red alder, so there is light to the forest floor in the  
winter, and shade in the summer. The soil is well drained silt loam,  
very wet this time of year, and dry in summer. This is the first time  
I've seen evidence of bulbs being moved by elk. There are elk  
footprints and droppings all over the slope; this is a feeding and  
resting area for a local herd. They particularly like the area where  
the former house stood, as evidenced by old water pipes and some  
broken ceramic pieces. All other signs of buildings are long gone.

We plan to go back to check the Hyacinthoides in May, and later, to  
confirm no seed set on the Galanthus.

My question is this: along with daffodils and Hyacinthoides, what  
other winter-spring flowering bulbs are likely to persist and thrive,  
decades after planting? Which crocus, tulips, etc, are truly  
survivors that outlast their gardens?


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